Asian Traders Cautious after Being Unnerved by China Sell-Off


Asian markets mostly rose but investors moved warily on Friday after a sharp sell-off in Shanghai the previous day fuelled concerns of fresh turmoil in Chinese markets.

China's benchmark composite index plunged more than two percent in a late afternoon sell-off Thursday as mainland traders were spooked by a government crackdown on risky dealing and worries about sky-high valuations.

Analysts also pointed out that there was no intervention by state-backed firms to support key stocks, indicating authorities are willing to see prices fall as they look to cool the market.

The losses rekindled memories of the collapse in mainland stocks in summer 2015 and the following January, which sparked a global retreat and was fuelled partly by fears values had risen too sharply -- the market had surged 150 percent in a year on speculative trading.

There is concern among leaders that risk-taking is becoming a problem again and they are looking to wind it in.

But investors fear Beijing's deleveraging drive aimed at sucking excessive liquidity from financial markets will continue for some time, hammering the bond market, which has sent yields on benchmark 10-year treasuries surging to three-year highs.

This in turn makes it more expensive for dealers to borrow to invest, which has a knock-on effect for stocks.

This week authorities warned against the huge gains in top-performing stock, liquor firm Kweichow Moutai, saying it had risen too fast.

- 'Surprised' -The call-out "worried investors that regulators are serious about clamping down on the speculative aspects of the economy," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader. 

But he added: "I'm surprised there is a surprise because anyone who took note of President Xi (Jinping's) recent address at the National Congress would know that the party and the nation have primacy over the markets in his next five-year plan."

Shanghai ended up 0.1 percent, recovering from early losses though only making a small dent in the previous day's plunge.

And Hong Kong -- which was dragged down one percent Thursday by the China sell-off and on profit-taking from a five-day rally -- finished up 0.5 percent.

Tokyo closed 0.1 percent higher as it reopened after a one-day holiday but Mitsubishi Materials plunged 8.1 percent a day after admitting its group firms falsified data and shipped products that did not meet orders from customers.

Seoul was 0.3 percent higher, Wellington put on 0.4 percent and Singapore added 0.5 percent, while Manila, Mumbai and Jakarta also rose. Sydney fell 0.1 percent.

US markets were closed for Thanksgiving. In early European trade Friday London and Frankfurt each added 0.1 percent, while Paris was flat. 

The euro extended gains against the dollar after data showed the eurozone economy continued to improve while jobs creation came in at its fastest pace in 17 years.

Confidence was also boosted after the head of the German opposition suggested he would "be open to talks" with Chancellor Angela Merkel on forming a coalition government and avert months of turmoil in Europe's biggest economy.

- Key figures around 0820 GMT - Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 22,550.85 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 29,866.32 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,353.82 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,423.14

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1850 from $1.1848 

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3289 from $1.3304

Dollar/yen: UP at 111.40 yen from 111.21 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 41 cents at $58.43 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 15 cents at $63.40 per barrel

New York - DOW: Closed for a public holiday

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